Palestine’s right to its promised freedom

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As I write this, in response to the article written by Paul Gauteng in the Tuesday January 13 edition of SCAN, the death toll of the barbaric Israeli offensive on Gaza—one of the most densely populated areas in the world—is 1,315 Palestinians, over 400 of those children. There are 5,300 injured, a large portion of whom are civilians, compared to 4 Israeli civilians and 9 soldiers killed.

Israel’s stated reason for this latest disregard for international law was to stop the suffering: its civilians were subjected to as a result of rocket attacks by the Palestinian resistance. In the two months prior to the ceasefire, 233 rockets were fired into southern Israel; from June 18, the first day of the ceasefire, until November 4, when an Israeli attack killed 4 Hamas fighters inside Gaza, breaking the ceasefire, there were only 18 rockets fired. According to Mark Regev, the Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesperson, none of these were fired by Hamas.

Mr Gauteng claims that Israel is the only nation wherein one can worship without the level of persecution that can be found Middle Eastern nations, such as Iran.” Had Mr Gauteng correctly carried out his research, he would have found that according to the CIA’s World Factbook, 2% of the Iranian population is non-Muslim, including Jewish, who can practice their religion freely. Under the democratically elected Hamas government in Gaza, the Orthodox Christian community celebrated Christmas during the offensive. Mr Gauteng also failed to mention the decision of the Israeli Knesset to ban Israeli-Arab parties from running in the ‘democratic’ elections, depriving 2 million citizens of their democratic rights.

In response to the claim that Hamas hides in the midst of civilians, I ask Mr Gauteng if he would like to explain how it is possible not to be near civilians in an area smaller in size than the Isle of Wight, with a population 105 times greater. Also, in a report by the BBC published on their website on 12/10/2005 at 15:34:50 GMT, the IDF announce that they will appeal against a Supreme Court ruling banning the use of Palestinian human shields in raids.

As for the comparison of Hamas to al-Qaida, Perhaps Mr Gauteng should do some research. Hamas is a political party, albeit with a military wing, set up to represent the Palestinian people. At the request of the international community, it took part in the in the democratic process and won the elections in 2006. Edward McMillan-Scott, the British Conservative head of the European Parliament’s monitoring team described the polls as “extremely professional, in line with international standards, free, transparent and without violence”. al-Qaida, on the other hand, is an umbrella organisation for a number of different groups in different countries who may or may not pledge their allegiance to it and has never entered the democratic process.

The current situation in Gaza has brought the criticism from world leaders. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is appalled by Israeli attacks on a UN compound in Gaza after seeing the destruction for himself. Mr Ban said that those responsible should be held accountable and demanded a “full investigation” through proper judiciary systems.

Desmond Tutu called Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip an “abomination”. He strongly condemned what he called international “silence and complicity” on the blockade.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: “the double standards are nauseating. The EU makes demands of Palestinians and backs them up by refusing to recognise their elected representatives and by cutting off financial support. We make requests to the Israelis … and when they are ignored we reward them by strengthening our partnership. Tzipi Livni says that Israel can not accept terrorism. Well just exactly who is doing the terrorising now?”

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7 Comments

  1. A very accurate and well put across response to Mr Gauteng’s clearly un-researched and sweeping article.
    I applaud you Mysterious individual for this clear and factual piece or writing which outlines some of the major problems connected to the persecution of the Palestinian state and lands.

  2. A very well-constructed and informative rebuttal to the article written by Mr Gauteng, who clearly does not have much in depth knowledge of the crisis and indeed of the history and geopolitics of the region. Mr. Gauteng comes across as an ignorant and poorly prepared journalist and I would question his abilities to write for the only university newspaper. His article does not reflect well on your organisation and I would also question the editorial staff for letting a clearly biased piece, (he himself said that most of his peers were “anti-Israel”), being allowed into print.

    However much praise must be given to the Mysterious Individual and I must ask why there aren’t more people of this calibre on your staff?

  3. It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza’s population. One must agree that when Gaza and Hamas were forced into?strangulation”, there was no choice but to reply back with what little they had. The Palestinian were left with diminished supplies of food, water, medical supplies, gas and electricity causing a humanitarian crisis clearly shown by the number of NGOs and aid groups that required access to the region. This access was refused and the reason for the lack of supplies was the blockade that Israel had and still CONTINUES to have on the Palestinian people. Therefore what would any democratically elected government do when forced into such a situation? It was the Israeli government that instigated the violence and therefore are the ones responsible for the conflict.
    When Hamas unexpectedly won the election, Israel and the US immediately sought to delegitimize the result and embraced Mahmud Abbas, the head of Fatah, who until then had been dismissed by Israel’s leaders as a ‘plucked chicken’.
    Hamas brought to Gaza a level of law and order unknown in recent years, and did so without the large sums of money that donors showered on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel. It eliminated the violent gangs and warlords who terrorised Gaza under Fatah’s rule. Further more if Hamas were so politically bad then surely the civilians of Gaza would request a withdrawal of the Hamas Government and protest to its authority? But this has not occurred, the reason being is the Palestinian people elected Hamas and Hamas has done more for the people of Palestine that any other political organisation including western governments.
    The author of this article is a complete dim wit, politically inept, he shows to be incompetent in his research and has failed to grasp an understanding of the situation in the Middle East. I would advise that Paul Gauteng resigns from his position and ceases to cause the scan newspaper and the university of Lancaster further embarrassment

  4. The article is by Fayez Almari by the way guys: the only reason it’s under the anonymous account is because we don’t have his Purple Card number to add him to the system. (If Fayez or anyone who knows him could email us with it, we can get the article correctly attributed.)

    “I would also question the editorial staff for letting a clearly biased piece … being [sic] allowed into print.”

    Might I remind people that the original article was published in the comment section, a section that deliberately eschews the typical standards of neutrality—just like every other newspaper’s comment section? The section’s stated aim is to spark debate, which is precisely what has been achieved here with an excellent rebuttal by Mr. Almari.

    The role of the editors—of which, for full disclosure, I am one—in this instance is not to stifle debate, regardless of the quality of the article or its relation to their own views. Suppressing the publication of either Fayez or Paul’s articles would have been a disservice to the paper, in my opinion, even though I (rather obviously) do not agree with both of them.

  5. Whilst I appreciate Rob Miller’s comments, and the spirit behind them, I feel it is important to highlight one area of concern. There is a very fine line between making sure the editorial staff do not “stifle debate”, and printing perposefully provocative pieces whose only purpose are to enrage certain sections of the student population. Why would the paper seek to offend people? Because the more vitriolic and virulent the diatribe, the more “juice” the paper will create and more interest in the paper will ensue. Yes, you should always give space to allow free debate within SCAN, but I don’t think this is the first time this year people have been concerned that that the sole reason an article got posted was to create controversy and therefore increased readership. Perhaps a more responsible editorial style, whilst not as sensationalist and tabloid, would increase respect in the official publication of the Students Union and show an understanding of the student body LUSU appears to have been lacking this year.

  6. Ehh, it’s not as sinister as that. It’s not as though our circulation can increase: the number of copies we print is limited by the print budget set at the end of the previous academic year. We also don’t have figures for readership, so it’s not like we’re going to get any increased ad revenues even if we did increase our readership—and obviously, as a non-profit, it’s not like we would get any benefit from the ad revenues anyway.

    I think you’re reading a bit too much into it: it’s just that occasionally, articles submitted to SCAN aren’t the most thought-out and considered things in the world and occasionally, the opinions of students aren’t particularly nuanced or mature. No conspiracy.

  7. Sorry, I don’t think you’re trying to increase revenue or claim headline figures like that. Perhaps my comments were un-nuanced too! As this is the first time my comments have got past the censors I was surprised to actually see it here! I know that certain high-level members of the SCAN team regularly brag about how quickly the free copies of the paper disappear from distribution venues around campus. They use this as evidence that they are doing a good job – “clearly students love what we are doing and any criticism is unfair, look at how quickly the copies vanish”. I was merely pointing out that this is perhaps a simplistic and unrealistic argument. Just because the copies vanish doesn’t mean people appreciate the content, or that there is any assumed validation of the work this year. I’ll be honest, this year SCAN has appeared more professional than it has in recent years, but it has also been more of a LUSU mouthpiece and more blinkered in it’s ideological base than at any time in the last 4 years. I really feel this is a shame and a missed opportunity.

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